RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Most Brazilians approve of the government's decision to hire foreign doctors to work in small towns and remote regions of Brazil, according to a poll released on Tuesday.
The move is designed to compensate for a shortage of qualified doctors in Brazil and their uneven distribution between urban and rural areas.
The decision was protested by the nation's medical community, but a survey by pollster MDA showed that as many as 73.9 percent of Brazilians approve of hiring foreign doctors. After the first poll on the measure was carried out in July, the proportion of support increased by 24.2 percent. Only 23.8 percent of Brazilians disapprove, down from 47.4 percent in July, also marking a significant change.
The decision to hire foreign doctors was announced following mass anti-government protests in June, demanding better public healthcare services.
The Brazilian government swiftly launched the More Doctors program to increase the number of physicians in rural areas by attracting doctors in urban centers. The program was opened to both local and foreign professionals.
In addition, the government signed an agreement with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to hire 4,000 Cuban doctors. The first 400arrived in Brazil in August, and are currently undergoing training.
The program was controversial from the start, with local physicians' associations complaining that their foreign counterparts would not have to undergo an exam, called Revalida, that certifies foreign doctors who wish to practice medicine in Brazil.
The Brazilian government was also criticized for only focusing on the lack of medical professionals, not on the poor infrastructure of medical facilities.
Though most approve of hiring foreign doctors, Brazilians are nearly evenly divided when the poll comes to the efficiency of the program, with 49.6 percent of Brazilians believing the program will solve the serious problems and affecting the healthcare sector, while 47.1 percent of them doubting whether the program will be efficient.